REVIEW | The 100 - Episode 2.13 - "Resurrection"
It fell from the night, like the suckerpunch from hell upon the ground where they stood. Ash rains down; it coats the death, the dying and the wanton disbelief of an army scattered, in a grey veil of violent sorrow. Heroes, healers and would be comrades lay trapped in the rubble below, as all the while, the Devil himself sits perched in his Mountaintop: a Cage in a cage, living off the blood of innocents until he can freely – and permanently – escape into the outside world that would have been his death. That is, until now.
So lays the playing field we return to in Episode 13 – entitled “Resurrection” – of the dynamite apocalyptic CW thriller, “The 100”. Hope now lies bleeding, and the efforts to bring together the various Grounder nations in order to defeat the Mountain are in tatters. But contrary to what Cage may currently believe, Clarke and Lexa are still very much alive thanks to their escape from the blast, courtesy of the inside knowledge they had of the impending attack. And both women are determined now more than ever to see these most evil of enemies conquered, as Clarke takes another deadly step forward towards being the kind of leader her people will need her to be if they are going to survive the next twenty four hours, let alone life in the new world.
Meanwhile, a war that is just as deadly continues to rage inside Mount Weather, as Jasper, Monty, Miller, Harper and the rest of the Sky prisoners do what they can to fortify the level they’ve taken thanks to the radiation breach that Dante remotely helped them secure. Bellamy too has found a way in to assist them by gaining access to the level, and hope for a moment glitters briefly. Not to be outdone though, Cage and his men are not giving up so easily. Aside from attacking the level with an out and out show of force, Cage takes another cruel step in shunting Maya into the contaminated space, saying that she has 20 minutes of oxygen only and will die unless Jasper and his friends give themselves up, and go back to the slaughter pen from whence they have just escaped.
So did the new President’s plan succeed? Is it finally too late to save the last Sky people within the mountain from a fate worse than death, not to mention death itself? And amidst all this stands Clarke Griffin: a leader now with more blood on her hands than life-affirming results to show for her plans made with Lexa to defeat the Mountain. But will the element of surprise that she and Lexa are still alive, give them the advantage in the next chapter of this bloodthirsty battle? Well. Suit up, and let’s go take a look shall we?
CUTTING EDGES AND TIPPING POINTS
The 100 is nothing if not a show about the concept of balance. Sometimes – in fact quite often – it’s about the balance of power, as in the cases with Dante and Cage, or Clarke and Abby, or even Jaha and Abby. A point and counterpoint argument about what defines the best leader, the right leader, and whether or not those two things are always one and the same. Other times it’s about the balance between mercy and justice. You need look no further than the death of Finn to see what that looks like in the terms of this story. And – as was so beautifully depicted in the episode through the interaction between Kane and Abby – sometimes it’s about the balance of truth.
Abby has this really consistent habit in the context of this war, of looking at Clarke’s decisions and judging the inhumanity of them with all kinds of self-righteous anger. To a point, you can see what see is seeing. Clarke knew the attack was coming. Clarke had ample chance to warn the people in the village of what was coming. Clarke had had the power to save the majority of the people in the camp, and yet chose to say nothing, in order to stop the Mountain from catching on to the fact that they have a spy inside their walls. And think of what we saw in those first few opening scenes. A wounded soldier stumbling around in disoriented terror, holding her own dismembered arm. Bodies and body parts strewn left, right and centre of the crater. Blood. Fear. Anger. Shock. Pain. And so much of it Clarke could have prevented if she had just spoken up. Abby’s humanity is mortally offended and she makes no bones about telling Kane exactly that, when she finds him in the rubble.
GRACE AND THE GREATER GOOD
Which leads me to Kane, who I swear I thank TV heaven for more and more every week, for the sheer wisdom and grace he is bringing to the story at the moment. For the way he is embodying another kind of great leader, as opposed to one like Lexa, who – while tactically brilliant and a deeply committed upholder of the law she governs by – lives a life in the perpetual motion of battle and survival, without any room for grace whatsoever.
I loved that Kane met Abby’s indignation over the bombing with the beautifully measured and profound response that sometimes leaders are forced to do the unthinkable in order to keep hope alive. The 300 people who died in the airlock, you’ve always sensed, have never truly been off Kane’s heart from the moment they died; their deaths still course through him as deeply as molten rock far below the earth’s surface, always burning a new and inexorable vision in his mind of the man he both wants and needs to be. Not to survive, not to come out on top. Just simply in order to be the man he knows he is capable of being. Kane knows all too well what sacrifice for the greater good means in a climate of survival or death, and I think he knew that deep down Abby knows what it means too. After all – as she murmurs in response to his reaction over Clarke’s actions – Abby shunted her own beloved husband out an airlock to save an entire people from descending into chaos in deep space. Ultimately it was Kane who made Abby see that neither of them have any right to judge Clarke for what she has done here, but rather, owe her every scrap of understanding for her plight that they can muster.
Because unlike in Abby’s experience, Clarke has not one target to protect from death, but two: her people outside the mountain, and her friends trapped within. That is a horrific set of circumstances, and one which cuts the very knees out from underneath Abby’s belief that it should have been the easiest ethical decision in the world for Clarke to go out and warn the village of the missile attack. And I love that Kane not only understood that, but that he was so humble, gentle and insightful in the way he unearthed his own sins as well as hers, in order that Abby might not only come to better understand her daughter, but also continue to support her as their rightful leader. We were even lucky enough to see the effect that such words had had on Abby in the moment where she and Clarke come face to face for the first time since their terse and shattered exchange in the woods after the missile struck. Kane’s selflessness and grace of attitude towards Clarke’s choices really hit a nerve in Abby that very much needed to be struck, and in that, for my part, I think it made Kane absolutely stand out in this episode. Not an easy task given just how many characters really stepped up to the plate this week. Acting wise, Henry Ian Cusick is bringing more and more gravitas and pathos to the role of the former chancellor with every episode, and I for one become more and more grateful that the writers have chosen to keep him around. Because he is extraordinary. I really, really hope he survives into Season 3.
FROM THE ASHES, A FIRE SHALL BE WOKEN
Speaking of extraordinary, there are few stories on television at the moment that can even vaguely compare to that of Octavia Blake. For a while now, and particularly since the introduction of characters like Lexa and Indra, I think we’ve had this cemented vision of what a female warrior leader looks like on The 100. Whatever leadership qualities Lexa or Indra have – and formidable though they may be – underneath there is an anger that drives them; a heart that finds little place for love or compassion, and gives them no room at all on the battlefield. Why? Because to these women, such these feelings are weakness. A point of vulnerability. Nothing more, nothing less. They are the distraction that lands a knife in your heart because you were too distracted to see the killing stroke about to befall you.
Octavia however, doesn’t just fly in the face of that entire mentality. She soars. She leaves the shallow expectations of who the world believes she is, flapping pathetically in her wake like a bunch of cheap rags in a gale. Indeed, instead of abandoning those parts of herself that her new Grounder people see as a waste of space, Octavia is driven utterly by love and fierce loyalty to the people she cares about most in the world. Bellamy. Lincoln. Her friends. She does not succumb to the insults of people who believe she does not have what it takes, because she knows she has what it takes: exactly the quality I think that Indra saw in her when she made Octavia her second.
All of this dovetailed perfectly then into the firefight that she – along with other grounders – found themselves in the middle of after the missile strike, when the Mountain scout who had been surveying the village prior to the strike begins picking off survivors with his sniper rifle. Indra, of course was one of the first hit, and as she lays injured she challenges Octavia to go, take her place and be the leader that saves their people from this new attack: something which means she’s going to have to use every resource at her disposal to get the other Grounder seconds on board to follow her. Not easy when they think she’s nothing and a veritable waste of space. But instead of asking them to take notice, Octavia Blake did what Octavia Blake does best. She grabbed their attentions by the scruffs of their bloodied necks and made them pay attention, not with words but with her own ingenuity, cleverness and courage under fire. She did not demand that they follow; instead, she became the leader that they could not help but follow. And it was fricking magnificent to watch.
A huge part of the success of Octavia 2.0 has to be attributed to the wonderful Marie Avgeropoulos, and the remarkable physical commitment she has shown to bringing this character to new and vibrant life. Because gone is simply the high-spirited Sky girl with the tendency to rebel. Here, now, in her place is a Grounder warrior with a heart so fierce that it would dwarf even the stars that she fell from. There is a fire and a tenacity to her that would strip bare the resolve of a lesser human being (personally I’d like to see her teach that bastard of a Mountain guard Emerson a lesson), and yet in being so, she in no way compromises the tenderness she shows the people she loves. Indeed, this is an Octavia leading by example in more ways than one.
Every week she shows the world that she makes her own destiny; that they will not determine it for her with their flimsy expectations. She does not succumb to the insults of the other seconds, but instead rises above them and leads in a way that demonstrates just how ill-informed their insults are. And moreover, she shows her new grounder people that they do not have to compromise on the most beautiful parts of what it is to be human, in order to stay alive. Indeed, who knows the hearts and minds she may be changing. Indra’s is one I think. Otherwise I have to wonder whether she ever would have considered letting go of her grudge against Lincoln the way that she did. All I can attribute that change to at the moment is Octavia’s example, because it has been an extraordinary thing.
Ultimately though, for my part, I will say this. If it were me, given the choice as to who I would be following into battle I would have no hesitation in leaving Lexa standing. It would hands down be Octavia Blake til the end, without question. Because call me crazy, but I don’t believe that a leader will ever truly understand justice, if they do not first understand grace. Octavia has it, Lexa doesn’t. Which makes me wonder…what could this mean for what lays ahead for Octavia, now that she has garnered respect from her peers in this way? What will it change? How will it change? Who will it change? And perhaps scariest of all, what will be the cost?
And cost is a concept Cage is feeling keenly at the moment, too. Aside from the fact that his own personal blood bags are now running free – still within the mountain, but in an environment that the majority of his men still cannot get access to due to the radiation leak – Cage finds himself suddenly a squad of men down after an attempt to storm the level ends in a giant fricking knife fight, from which his people come off second best.
I’ll be honest with you. I have watched many, many hours of this show. And yet even still I was unprepared for just how bloody and ugly that fight got. It reminded me of those enormous paintings you see in an art gallery, where the artist has needed an entire wall on which to paint a scene of battle and bloodshed even down to the cruellest and tiniest detail. The artist want to leave you in no doubt of the vast horror of that moment, of the anguish. Arguably the most brutal point of their battle to date though was when Jasper’s axe fell, dripping with rage, blood and bitterness, over the neck of the hapless Mountain soldier who was left behind in the fight. Because while the Sky captives may have come out on top in this skirmish, it pales in comparison to the war that is brewing at the foot of the mountain. The blood spilled on that common room floor will be nothing compared to that which is still to come. And you realise that with the one Sky girl that Cage’s men made off with in the heat of the fight, another soldier will appear on the ground who will not be burdened by a need for a hazmat suit. Her lifeblood – even her very bones – taken to fuel his.
Jasper has been a very interesting character to watch evolve over the last two episodes, which is a big deal given the fact that for a long while he’s been a bit superfluous to the Sky captives’ escape plans. Sure, we all smiled wryly at the idea that he thinks he’s the mastermind of it all, but the fact remains that Monty is basically the one keeping this survival show on the road (seriously – he is the Raven of Mount Weather) in tandem with Bellamy’s epic undercover efforts. Without those two, the Sky captives are dead before they even start.
So it makes me wonder. What has all this been leading to? Is Jasper on the road to some great epiphany about true leadership? One that will see him recognise that sometimes to lead, you need to give up your own fight for someone else to keep up theirs? I’ve been wondering that a lot actually, ever since the introduction of Maya. Wondering whether in the midst of all these lives being stolen, he would willingly give his up to save hers. To give her a chance to be on the ground. Honestly, I don’t know. All I’m sure of is that it feels like there is something big that we can’t see yet, waiting around the corner for Jasper; a crossroads where he will have to decide what kind of man he wants to be. The question is, if that happens, will he come out alive?
Speaking of coming out alive, there was more than one eyebrow raised when Lexa and Clarke appeared alive after the bomb had hit, particularly in light of the fact that they had seemed to very conveniently vanish from the camp shortly before the strike. Because let’s be real. The people closest to this firefight? They’re not dumb. They know that something is up, but they go with the flow because more and more they are accepting that there is a reason behind every move Clarke and Lexa make. Because they know without question that Clarke and Lexa’s every move is being informed by a singular purpose: to get their people out of Mount Weather.
Given that in the background the exchange between Abby and Kane has been going on as to the ethical validity of Clarke’s battle tactics, it was interesting to see then how Clarke reacted to the lone Mountain sniper when they finally came upon him. Despite a valiant effort, Lincoln is brought down by the Mountain Man’s reaper alarm (seriously – did he know that Lincoln had been a reaper, before he sounded the alarm? I wonder) and ends up with a knife to his throat. Finally revealing themselves, Lexa and Clarke stand before the sniper as he threatens to kill Lincoln, and Lincoln’s response is as noble as it is expected when he tells Clarke to save her people. Clarke’s response? Perfect. She tells Lincoln that he is her people, and proceeds to shoot him through the shoulder, which in turn takes out the soldier through the heart.
And herein lies the clearest indication of where Clarke’s heart truly stands. Her people are her allies, regardless of where they come from. Her people are the people who’ve gone and will continue to go into battle with her, for her and beside her. For everything that’s come to pass, it seems that in Clarke’s mind now, for all intents and purposes, there are no Grounders. No Sky people. Only the people – as one – against the Mountain. But just as this question is answered, another one is posed. What about Lexa’s heart? Is she being affected enough by Clarke to change, in the same way Indra is being affected by Octavia’s example. I wonder. Because while the two Grounder women are very similar in some things, there is one area where they are poles apart. Indra wears her feelings very publically – a full set of armour and belief that leaves nobody who sees it, in any doubt as to her mind or her motivation.
Lexa however is vastly different. While in the act of battle, she is full of pointed advice and wisdom, when it comes to the big picture, she is playing her cards so close to her chest that she’s practically hiding her hand in her ribcage. Which begs the question. What is she hiding? At the moment it feels mostly like she’s hiding her growing feelings for Clarke (although to be fair, despite her best efforts, even Blind Freddy blindfolded in a basement at midnight during a blackout would still be able to see that there are feelings there), but still. There is something extra there. An uneasiness. As though some great chess game is being played out before our very eyes only we cannot see the pieces for what they are. And that makes me think there are yet darker days ahead for this alliance.
This was, to be sure, a very important chapter of the story that played out in this episode. A hugely important chapter. Because while it may not have seen the great break into the Mountain occur just yet, it proved invaluable in setting up two utterly pivotal elements of the greater story. The first is that finally, it seems the fractures between the key Grounder and Sky players are beginning to heal over, and the gnarled scar tissue growing up in the wake of the original would seems to be even stronger than the flesh that was there before.
People’s view of ‘sides’ in this new world are shifting seismically, and it’s changing everything. Where Jasper once called Harper ‘low hanging fruit’ (seriously bro, no-one has forgiven you for that yet), now they stand together as equal comrades in a brutal fight to fend off armed soldiers who want nothing more than to suck their bones dry of life. Where Indra once would have seen Lincoln face the death by a thousand cuts, now she embraces him again as one of her own, and in doing so acknowledges his importance not just as a warrior, but as a human being of immense honour, integrity and worth. Where once she was a child who had to be hidden from her own people in order to stay alive, Octavia Blake has adopted a new people despite their hostility towards her; proving her allegiance and worth as a leader, not with words but with courageous actions that prove she is not only loyal, but worth following into even the bloodiest fray. Where Abby would have been content to death stare and disown her own daughter for the necessary and deadly evil she had allowed in letting the missile hit, under Kane’s advisement she now understands that Clarke is no different from herself; both were leaders who were forced to make a deadly call and pay a bloody cost in order that they might achieve the greater good. And where once Clarke Griffin may have desired nothing but to see the Grounders dead and gone for what they did to their many friends, she now stands side by side with their leader in order to take down an enemy that has devastated them both.
Such episodes in a TV show need to be written by people who really do possess that vast understanding of the characters at their disposal, and Bruce Miller’s viscerally eloquent script demonstrated that understanding in spades. For me the high point was that fantastic dialogue between Kane and Abby when they were trapped in the rubble, because that whole exchange did huge things to give us a deep and beautifully constructed insight into the ethical and moral maze the leaders in this show are being forced to navigate, as well as into the characters themselves. That said, I also absolutely loved the fact that in regards to Octavia, Miller’s script gave Marie Avegeropoulous the room to properly bloom in the role – with meaty, strong action sequences as well as interaction with other characters – rather than simply relying on her having great lumps of explanatory dialogue to give us the insight we needed for her role this week to really hit the mark.
Speaking of action, Dean White yet again nailed the direction of this episode, but in more ways than one. Many of the episodes White has directed to date have been brimming with explosive action, but this week there seemed to be a much more tactical element to his direction. Take for example the combat scene in the Mountain. While there was a lot going on in those scenes, White still made sure we were up close and personal with those small human details that really make those scenes hit home. He made sure it wasn’t just a battle. It was a battle full of characters we knew and cared about, contending for their lives. And it was that that really made that fight stick in your brain for a good while afterward. In the same way, he did a great job in the scenes with Octavia marshalling the other seconds, again doing much to highlight her strength and physical presence as a leader in the midst of people who had initially believed she had nothing and was worth nothing. Capturing that was massively important to the overall impact Octavia’s character ended up having, and as a huge fan of what she’s brought to the overall narrative, I cannot thank him enough.
So where to now. The Mountain still lays ahead of the warriors on the ground below: the final battlefield for a war that has been brewing long before Clarke and her people ever landed. Meanwhile inside Mount Weather, the general population there have finally come out from the shelter of their woodwork – lead by Maya’s father – and have taken in the remaining 44 Sky captives, to hide them from Cage and his men. Indeed, it would appear that for all his strength and resources, Cage is not so well supported by his people as he might think. Also locked in there, Bellamy remains in as tenuous a position as ever as he keeps doing what he must to assist not only Jasper, Monty and Co. to survive, but also to get Clarke and Lexa inside the Mountain’s defences. How much longer can he remain hidden in plain sight before someone realised he’s a new face in a place where new faces only ever belong to a person they’re ultimately going to kill? And all the while at the feet of the great peak, Clarke and Lexa must now regroup with their combined forces and prepare to make the next move. The question is, who will be the first to call ‘check mate’?
Okay guys. WHOSE IDEA WAS IT TO SET THE WHITE HORSE ON FIRE. No really for a moment I thought it was a unicorn and I was flipping AGHAST.
Kane should just adopt every one of the Sky kids because his is a better parent than all of the others put together.
Also, the man was buried in rubble and his hair was STILL perfect. I’ll just let you ponder that for a minute. Seriously. GO PONDER HOW PERFECT KANE IS. I’LL WAIT.
The moment Indra and Lincoln reconciled. So many feels.
PSA: If there is a bar fight, I am pre-claiming Adina Porter. Lady is a BOSS.
You know that moment Clarke shot Lincoln through the shoulder to take out the soldier, and he was all like ‘Nice shot’? Yeah. Dude’s epitaph is going to be ‘Don’t worry it’s just a flesh wound.’
In contrast, if I had been shot in the shoulder there would have been noise complaints on MARS.
Is it just me or is there something I missed about Maya’s mother somewhere along the way? Maybe it’s me not watching close enough? That’s probably it, but if anyone could enlighten me, that’d be ace. Right now I’m just assuming she was an awesome lady with a brave heart and a working moral compass.
IS IT RAVEN AND WICK TIME YET I HAVE BEEN WAITING FOREVER. Cc: Kim “Something Wicken This Way Comes” Shumway